This disconnect is usually based on several factors, however the largest one is that many times, their goals are not aligned. This is also amplified by how each group may be incentivized differently. These two functions are generally separated by department, but also maybe even by philosophy and culture.
When projections are not met, marketing blames sales for their poor performance, and vice versa. Sales often holds marketing accountable for blowing large budgets and being out of touch with the realities of the market and the relationship-based approach to closing business.
Both disciplines are necessary to any successful business, so why can’t they get along?
Overall, we think marketing and sales need to have a collaborative relationship so we’ve put together a list of the Top 5 Ways Sales & Marketing Teams Can Work Better Together and interruptions to your everyday thinking…
1. Enable Ownership
The most important aspect to mutual success is creating “ownership” by engaging the sales team in the marketing planning process. One way we have found this to be very effective is on major initiatives we will ask our clients to appoint 1-3 sales champions that can attend calls and be the conduit for the market and their sales rep peers. A program that is presented at the national sales meeting and introduced by the sales champions has a much higher percentage of success factor.
Interruption: Encourage the two departments to collaborate on a scoring structure for incoming leads. This will minimize the junk leads for the sales team and it will give marketing a list for nurturing. Sales should also have an active role in continuing to refine the customer profile. This is useful info for marketing to provide very targeted communication to their customers.
2. Live in Reality
Most marketing teams spend 90-95% of their time in their headquarters, with maybe some time out at trade shows. But this doesn’t give marketing a sense of the reality of the market. Marketing leadership should mandate their teams spend 15-20% of their time out in the field, traveling with sales, making store visits, attending industry forums – to ensure they understand the reality of the industry as they put together marketing plans and tactics.
Interruption: Consider having marketing “pitch” the product to sales and have sales “pitch” the product back to marketing. You may find two very different styles and you can cherry pick from the best.
3. Zero-Based Marketing
One error many marketing teams make is that they merely plan to execute the same things they have over the last several years – including all the pieces individual sales reps say they need to be successful. One outcome is that marketing plans are rarely tightly tied to the next year’s business goals.
This is also why all marketing teams have way too many pieces of sales and marketing collateral to manage, update and pay for.
Every year marketing and sales champions should come together to audit their tools and agree to cut 10-20% of the pieces each year. Marketing teams should also ALWAYS start at a zero-based budget to ensure their plan is aligned with the business strategy.
Interruption: Know what your competition is up to. Follow them on social media and ensure that both teams are doing the same. You’ll be able to easily understand how to differentiate your collateral and have buy in from the entire team on any potential pivots.
4. 50/50 Balance
Some companies are driven by sales and others are driven by marketing. When these are out of balance either way, then there is no harmony and the outcome is less than desirable. When you can get a strong 50/50 balance in how you approach your marketing plan, AND ensure this is aligned with business goals, this will give you the best chance to optimize business results.
Interruption: Both groups should also constantly be assessing the success of the tools and looking to see what should be added or could be deleted. Too many times marketing launches a program without ever checking back to see if it's useful to the sales team.
5. Built-in Alignment
People will execute on what they get paid for. Therefore, the best way to ensure alignment is to make sure that sales and marketing teams have incentive programs that are built to achieve the same business results. To ensure incentives are met to their fullest, they must be communicated effectively and easily for the participant to measure and understand where they are each month.
Companies definitely can optimize their business results when sales and marketing are strongly aligned and working toward a common goal.
Interruption: To add an important wrinkle, when you add in operations as a third part of this alignment process, you are pretty much guaranteed success (of course, as long as the business strategy is viable.)
Interrupt has extensive experience helping our clients map out an entire channel strategy or improve the sales results of an existing channel. Contact us if you want an assessment and recommendations for your approach.